Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Atemporality in Fiction

Okay the more I think about the more the fan wank of The Dresden Files' Mab being an aspect of an atemporal being split between 9 different characters ...that we know of the more I like it.

But I will also fully admit it's my fan wank. I don't expect Jim Butcher to go in that direction.

The reason why the idea fascinates me is because I feel it's rare for media to deal with the concept of atemporality. Narrative is based on causality, and to divorce narrative from causality would be HARD.

Think about it. The most common attempts are time travel stories, but even in those the protagonists always seem to move through a linear progression of events. They might be in the same place more than once but they seldom experience the exact same moment more than once.

Think about it due to the mutability of the future and their own actions these moments are never portrayed as the exact same moment playing out the exact same way.

But more than that time is more than the past it's also the future. An atemporal character would need to be able to reconcile their past and present selves with all potential future versions of themselves some of whom could be wildly different. And what if the character was absolutely atemporal, literally being all they was, are and potentially will be simultaneously.  What would that look like?

I like to think it would look like the Trinity (that's it's as close as it ever made sense to me anyway) . A being with multiple version of itself all existing at the same time. The reason why Jim Butcher's Winter Queens stuck out to me for it is because it is cannon that they are The Moirai, Mab (two of the hot damn), Aurora, Titania, Hecate, the Norns, and probably those witches that made Macbeth go nuts.

And while classical mythology is as hokey a religion as you'll find they always made more sense to me as a logical trinity than the christian version.  What the hell is a holy ghost?

I can understand the concepts of past,  present and future.

Though I can't understand how those three would manage to have a conversation with each other. The only way I can think to portray a being who can experience exact moments of their lives more than once is to portray them or it or whatever as multiple characters. Even then how do you portray the uncertainty of the future? By portraying multiple potential future versions of the same character, maybe.

But delving deeper even that creates a problem. Present me is not the same man as past me and I certainly hope I will have evolved a bit in the future. How would one's present self affect and change their interactions with the future versions. How would it work in reverse. How would the interactions future incarnations be able to shape and influence past and present versions.

In a weird way it just makes sense to me that having 9 versions of one character  running around in different bodies would be the most practical way of doing it if someone managed it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Atemporal Women Make My Brain Hurt (Dresden File Spoilers...this will make no sense unless you read the books)

So after watching Unlimited Blade Works and beating Bioshock Infinite my brain won't shut up about atemporality, the condition of being unfixed in time. It being Christmas my head went to the great maker of being unbound by time and space.

But I'm not here to talk God.

I am a Dresden Files fanboy. And the most powerful characters in that series tend to be part of thier own Trinities.  Up until now those Trinities have been mostly played as separate characters but Cold Days and Skin Game hint they might not fully be.

It's something the series always says but then more or less ignores for the sake of simplicity. Mab, Maeve, and Mother Winter are the same person. To a point anyway. The series also notes the role of mantles and that in the case of those three the mantle of Winter Lady, Winter Queen, and Winter Mother are more important than any of them as individuals. That the mantle defines them more than anything else.

And the series thoughts a huge giant curve ball at that by turning Harry's apprentice Molly Carpenter into the new Winter Lady.

After considering that Robert and Rosalind Lutece are literally the same person in different bodies.
wibbly wobbly timeywhimey, I started thinking about the Winter Trinity.

Aside: Robert and Rosalind are quantum twins, Rosalind a mad scientist decided her ideal partner would herself so she hijacked an alternate dimension's male version of herself, but the game says that the mind has trouble dealing with crossing dimensions and reconciling original memories with older ones. So Robert would have the same memories, experiences and by extension eventually to a point at least the same identity as his quantum twin Rosalind. Which is why they say it would be weirder if they didn't finish each other's sentences later in the game. It's a way of quickly acknowledging they are indeed literally the same person without dwelling on it. 

The books have said that Maeve would have eventually become a literal copy of Mab, who would have become a literal copy of Mother Winter. And Molly is already starting to become a literal copy of Maeve in appearance at least.

I contend that all four of them are the same person unstuck in time.

Furthermore the books have said that Maeve is Mab's literal daughter. At some point she gave birth to herself. But she had another. Sarrissa who would go on to become the Summer Lady. and if what I just said holds true for both Summer and Winter that whole group of characters would also be different incarnations of the same person, including Lilly and Aurora.

But the most striking case of it is Molly and Maeve. Maeve the first second aspect of winter we meet even before Molly gets big into the story but looking back the two are eerily similar. Maeve displays most of Molly's worst tendencies but what really makes me think on the issue is that both of them strongly come on to the protagonist Harry and are faltered by cold water.

And more over both of them react more or less the same way to it. Maeve eventually trying to murder Harry and Molly viewing the incident as a cruel embarrassment undermining her admiration of her mentor.

Cold Days spends a lot of time drawing parallels between the two but beyond that is Maeve's death the symbolic death of Molly's hedonism. And if that's the case what does it say about the deaths of Aurora and Lilly? Or that Maeve killed or at least had a hand in killing both.

Remember at the time we first meet both of those characters Molly would have been a preteen living under her mother's Charity's supervision. And while flawed both of those versions are the naive of the Winter and Summer Trinity's.

Furthermore Molly has had her share of parental issues as have pretty much anybody in that bunch who's worn the mantle of lady. Maeve is written in Cold Days as more or less a straight dark Mirror for Molly's darker impulses but it's also easy to view Aurora in the same mold desperately trying to gain Titania's affection.

Among winter all three/four incarnations have shown some affection, albeit in different ways for Harry and the more I think about it the more I think it might actually be different aspects of the same affection.

Moreover even Titania's the Summer Queen's anger over Harry's murder of her daughter Aurora is so encompassing that it's easy to believe it might not just be "her" anger but a manifestation of all of the complicated interactions all of her selves have had with this guy.

Now there is a question of how aware each of the aspects are of this. Does Mab remember being Maeve? Does she remember being Molly? Almost every every scene between her and Harry is filled with sexual tension. Could that be an extension and evolution of Molly's infatuation? Mab has said that although she isn't human now she was at one point. At the time I thought her transfiguration would have been in the long long ago but what if it were more recent. Again if she is unstuck in time when exactly she became Mab might be irrelevant in the first. She could have been born Molly Carpenter but still exist even before that,

It also makes sense why Mab would want Harry for the role of winter so bad. Being her mentor he may indeed be the one the mantle was created for with the rest being pale imitations. Also it would explain Leanansidhe's loyalty to Mab in the first place. If Lea's bargain as Harry's fairy godmother extended to Molly it would also extend to the rest of her future incarnations, mostly  Mab.

We know that such atemporality exists in the universe because the prison on Demon Reach was created at multiple points in the stream.

It would also explain some of the differences in their personalities. Both Mab and Maeve are vindictive and dangerous but Mab has rules. Maeve may be Mab before she came up with those rules.

Furthermore If Mother Winter and Mother Summer are basically quasi-eternal atemporal versions of each of these characters then it makes sense why they are so secretive, tight lipped and to a point fatalistic.

They are almost always resigned to the plot and the most unwilling to do anything to change it. Possibly because they already lived it. They already know all this.

P.S. I forgot to mention when Molly wants to compartmentalize complex tasks she visualizes different versions of herself in her mind. Just something to add to my thoughts.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

What Is Edge?

I like Daria. Have I said that enough. I don't think I've said that enough. Apart one of the shows I watch when I don't know what I want to watch I also feel without that one show I'm not sure I would have made it through high school intact. There are shows that I've seen since about high school that have helped me put my life in perspective when I'm feeling low. And to be honest there are a few episodes like, "Write Where It Hurts", "Through a Lens Darkly", "The Misery Chick," and "Boxing Daria" that are always good and helping me step out of myself for introspection (prepare for it), but all the same that show had something that resonated me in the moment, at the time.

Ironically enough I think what that thing was was edge. Okay it takes some explaining why that's kind of odd. Daria did a whole episode, though it was a reoccurring theme of the show, poking fun at marketers trying to co-op youth culture specifically lamenting that the word edge was vague enough that it could mean anything.

To me Daria's edge was authenticity. It along with a lot of teen dramadies at the time spoke to a truth that I felt but couldn't articulate. The experience of being a kid, or rather a teenager isn't all sunshine and roses. You're young enough to lack a decent amount of control over your life and just old enough to appreciate how that lack of control affects you. Furthermore you often lack the life experience to figure out how to really cope with all of that. Performing the role of a sardonic Greek chorus is one way to deal with it. Hell, sometimes it's all you really have the power to do.

Daria had the courage to be indignant, not in the heroic sense of the paragon,  but rather indignant that her world didn't make sense to her and that she couldn't really do much about it.

That indignation, is a form of sincerity that requires a certain amount of self awareness and dare I say it vulnerability. Some writer had to find some of this stuff maddening and be okay with internally, privately and eventually publicly admitting it, which by the way is something I still struggle with, being comfortable enough to admit when I am angry and realizing the validity and eventually the causes of that emotion. On its own the condition of being angry, having an edge is okay.

On the other hand it isn't healthy to be angry and in the lie of satisfaction. Anger has a way of subtly effecting my thoughts and actions and as I get older I'm getting better at realizing when that's happening. When the why of me is, "because I'm mad." That doesn't mean that I have to stop being angry but realize and admit when said anger is starting to become motivation and when said motivation is affecting or even leading my decision making.

Doing something because I'm mad isn't always a bad thing but it's something I ought to know.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Southfield December 7, 2015 City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on December 7, 2015

  • Topics Discussed Include
  • Bringing In a Consultant, Hamilton Anderson Associates to help develop Civic Center at Evergreen and a discussion of that process
  • DTE Energy’s Retro-Commissioning Program
  • The Promotion of Michael Manion From an Acting role to Director of Community Relations
  • A Discussion on the Nature of Acting Roles
  • The Creation of an Ethics Policy
  • Changes to City Ordinances including one banning the use of non-commercial animal feed out doors
  • Modernizing Processes in the Building Department and Technology Department
The Median at Evergreen and 8-Mile and it’s relation to a gas station

An agenda and related Documents can be found here.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 4, 2015 Southfield City Council Visioning Session

On December 4, 2015 the Southfield City Council held a visioning session with representatives from Project Innovation Incorporated as facilitators.

Note 1: This meeting was recessed rather than adjourned and will continue on Monday December 7, 2015

Note 2: Because the session broke into smaller groups I chose to mostly focus on the taping what the group as a whole was saying and doing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In Defence of Lavi's Choice

So I've spent a lot of brain power over the last few days on Last Exile because it is that good. That said it isn't perfect.

One of the most constant complaints about the show is that it's second protagonist kind of drops out of significance in the middle after deciding to no longer be the other protagonist's copilot.

And I sort of get it. But...

One of the major themes of Last Exile is the tragic militarization of the Sky and the Lavi-Claus-Titania love triangle is a big giant metaphor for it.

Titania is a combat pilot born and bred. It's one of the reasons why those two bug her so damn much early on. She's worked all her life to become the best damn combat pilot in the world and then all of a sudden here comes Claus who got that damn good just by goofing around for fun.

To make things more clear she sports a red plane.

They devote an entire episode to her realizing that there is more to flight, to the skies than just combat and that maybe it isn't such a good thing that Claus is starting to turn into an a real ace. He's starting to abandon his wide eyed wonderment at the sky.

For Lavi's part, and Claus share this backstory she flies to memorialize the devil-may-care adventurous spirit of her deceased father and senses that there is something wrong with that being succeeded by combat oriented pragmatism.

The choice between the two really is about Claus choosing whether he wants to be an aviator or an airman. And the fact that Lavi won't fly with him while he's the latter, while Titania won't fly with him while he's the former brings that choice to the fore.

Also it's not like Lavi left the series she hung around with the flight crew and continued to work on the physical symbol of all of that.

Their fathers', the two know each other because their dads were copilots, damaged plane.

My point is that while the choice to take Lavi out of the cockpit gave her less screen time it may have made her more thematically important.

The Silvana is the Safest Place In The World

I can't shake it. I love Last Exile. There is a lot to talk about but for right now I want to talk about one of the most fascinating character's in a cast of fascinating characters. Sophia Forester, Empress-First Officer of the "Kill 'em all" Silvana.

Range Murata, Last Exile, Sophia Forrester taken from

Okay let me back up.

The one of the great things about Last Exile are the character designs. Characters generally fit within families and the design of those families are relatively consistent. Courier pilots all look like interwar aviators, because they are. The flight deck crew all look like mechanics because they are. The bridge staff all look like naval officers, because they are.

And that consistency allows the story to visually communicate the gist of who these characters are without a lot of spending a lot of time. It can then focus smaller less obvious aspects of their personalities. In Sophia's case she's the team mom. Apart from the technical proficiency her uniform informs the audience of her establishing character moment is that she's the first member of the crew to really comfort Alvis, who looks to be about 4, has transitioned from everything she's ever known. And to do so she utters the words that sum up her character.

"The Silvana (her ship) is the Safest Place in the World."

It took me a while to realize it but her role as the executive office is an outward manifestation of that personality. Everybody on that ship save her captain perhaps are her adult children, and she will do everything in her power to make that ship safe for them both physically and emotionally. It's ironically enough the home she's made.

And that's really interesting. In a lot of military and even non military dramas the feminine is something that detracts from strength but here Sophia's strength as a military officer is portrayed as an extension of a traditional feminine role, the home maker.

That's why it's all the more heart breaking when for a time she has to leave the home she built for herself.

But the change in design allows for her more matronly personality traits to be made more visually explicit as she rocks a Lady Capulet gown as her regalia when she takes up her country's throne. And the show makes implicit that this is the same woman. That behind the trim is still the Vice Captain of the "Kill-em all" Silvana.

That coronation wasn't some sort of transformation into a new role but a confirmation of all the old ones as the show rockets into it's third act where she's leading a war council.

They are the same coin. All of that skill and silent ferocity is there to protect who and what she cares about and what she cares about is the Silvana and her crew.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Last Exile, Fam and Space Operas

I've done it before. I'll do it again. Let's talk about Last Exile and its sequel Fam, The Silver Wing.

Oddly enough it started because I was trying to defend Battlefield Earth on Twitter. I actually like the idea of the resistance having to rediscover and relearn how to use some long lost technology to overthrow their oppressors and that is basically what Last Exile is, with the eponymous Exile being said long lost piece of technology.

To prove my point I posted a couple of episodes from Funimation's YouTube channel and immediately (after hemming and hawing over it for half the day) thought please sirs I want some more dogfights.

Last Exile is one of those forgotten classics of a bygone era. The shortcut to making any anime top 10 list for that time is to look at what Cartoon Network was airing. Sure a lot of other networks had an anime block but CN had made a covenant with viewers and transformed itself into the place to watch anime, airing everything from Astro-boy to Ghost in the Shell.


Okay they didn't air everything.  Last Exile is one of the shows that didn't get a proper Adult Swim airing until much later and it's why I feel it gets over looked. Things are changing, with the advent of streaming and while I'm glad Toonami is back I'm also glad it isn't the anime monopoly it was in my teenage years. Viz's stuff is on Hulu and both Crunchy Roll and Funimation simulcast subtitled stuff.

I'm kind of starting feel the inverse with all of Disney's acquisitions. Seriously Marvel and Lucus Films. Does The Mouse really need all that, though Jessica Jones was pretty good.

But anyway back to Last Exile. I love it. Even I occasionally forget how much I love it but I do. It has an epic scope and almost immediately gives the sensation that we're watching an age coming to an end, in more ways than one.

The immediate metaphor from the get go is that we're watching a transitional period in the world's version of aviation. Transitioning from the golden age of exploration and innovation to one of militarization where the primary reason to fly is to defend the homeland.

Going in spirit from backyard bi-planes to spitfires over London.   We're watching a world in an ever escalating war and it's starting to finally feel it as the skies start to turn crimson.

By the way, lots of WWII metaphors. The vast majority show takes place in a steam punk aircraft carrier, The Silvana, a prototype vessel for a new type of warfare where rather than ship to ship combat ships house planes that can cripple enemy craft before they reach firing range. Though we still get loving shots of rotating turrets.  There's more to it than that but that the least complicated version.

There is this on going feeling that what is happening in the series is important because the events we see are shaping a new world that will be something wholly different from the old order even if they can't see what that might be.

Okay while my twitter feed has probably spoiled every damn thing in Last Exile. I don't want to so let me move on. Show is beautiful. The colors are muted to give this sort of pastoral look most of the time, evoking a sense of Hudson River School romanticism again highlighting that we're in an age of transition with something lost.

Beyond that if they get a name and dialogue you'll remember, Vince, Godwin, Frank, Anthony, Claus, Lavi, Luciolla, Alex, Sophia, Titiana, Alvis, Dio, Mulin, Dunya, Delphine, Cicada, Walker, Ralph Wednesday, Duke Mad-thane, Holly Mad-thane, Alister,  and even Fat Chicken.

Which is why I can't stand Fam, the Silver Wing. It's got no characters. Okay It has characters just none I really care about.

It even makes me care less about all the characters in the original. Every time I got bored with it it would dole out Dio, or Vince, or Titiana and hint they were going to do something cool with them only for them to not show up for another three episodes or so.

At first I wanted to excuse it. "Hey this is a new installment. It's not about them." But every time they pulled that move I would just get madder and madder and madder until some revelations occurred to me.

First off. Nope. No longer giving it a pass. For the past month or so I've been heavily invested in Star Wars Rebels. And that show got me to care about it's new cast of immigrants in about 3 minutes flat.

And then I couldn't get my head out of the stars and I realized if you rip out all the original cameos Fam, the Silver Wing is nothing more than a run of the mill low budget space opera anime.

And now I'm trying to figure out how I feel about that. Let me parse my words very carefully. In my head I know that Gundam (all of it), Battle of the Planets, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Legend of Galactic Heroes form some of the foundations for this medium. Further more like what you like and all.

All the same every season there are some slow, monotonous clunky ones.

That drone on like the most boring history teacher in the world. And to a degree I get it. They're trying to tap into that relational aspect of history where big moments are the result of small decisions made for even smaller reasons.

But their characters always sound more like textbooks written a century or two after the fact rather than living breathing human beings with personalities and relationships.

I love the small moments of Last Exile. Lavi waking up Claus and yelling at him that his oversleeping keeps them from getting the best cuts at the deli. It explains everything you need to know about the relationship between these two. They take care of each other and are practically a married couple in all but name.

They're basically the Lindberghs.

And don't get me started on all the moments between Sophia, Alex and Vince, or what Dio's death scene says about him and his relationship to Luciolla. I'll call the man in Fam DINO. Screw it Fam itself is LEINO. Last Exile in Name Only.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Southfield October 5, 2015 City Council Meeting

 Southfield City Council Meeting Held October 5, 2015

Topics Discussed Include

  • Going Out For A National Search for A Fire Chief vs Promoting (Acting Fire Chief Barry White) From Within
  • Labor Issues
  • Waste Management

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Introduction to the Southfield 2015 Community Pride Awards

Notes: Due to technical difficulties a brief segment was cut at roughly 3-4 minutes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Let's Play

Okay so I kind of described why I'm doing what I'm doing... to piss off my Dad. (I kid) but let's talk hardcore about what exactly I'm doing and what are my future plans.

First off about in June I started opening business bank accounts and opened up a business credit card. That makes it easier for me to do stuff for this blog and not worry so much about whether or not what I do here is going to interfere with the other stuff in my life... to a point I still have to make minimum payments and taxes are going to get wierd but I have enough money in the bank accounts not to worry about that for a while and if push comes to shove it's relatively easy for me to invest more seed money.

That line of credit will allow me to make equipment upgrades some of which have already arrived. I have a new video camera, a new laptop, and have upgraded adobe software. In addition I'm going to get a new microphone and a new still camera.

All of this in theory will allow for this blog to be more visual and for my YouTube channel to actually have real video.

In addition I'm broke (and have bad luck with them... one cracked head gasket on a Chevrolet that lasted two weeks and one absolutely totaled GM. Never buy a car for less than 2 grand) so I don't have a car. But I've discovered Uber, which labor issues aside considering insurance might be cheaper anyway so that's not as much of a problem as it used to be.

My point is that there are fewer and fewer reasons not to carry out my ideas for this blog which are many.
  • As a fluke of fate a family member decided to cut me a break and give me enough cash to go to Youmacon this year and I want to use the new equipment to do some cool stuff. Actually cover it right, photos, vlogs, edited video the works. It's kind of acting as my deadline to get stuff set up but things have been moving faster than I thought. 
  • It's a little late in the game but I could still at least cover some of the local debates this election season. 
  • I always wanted to try podcasting but a one man show is hard and by the time my resolve kicked in my old mic died. But I ordered a shiny new one so s'all good man. 
  • Ditto for skype audio interviews. And while I'm at it short documentaries
  • Hell why not a regular news show focusing on hyper-local stuff. It's more or less what I already do in text. 
  • While I'm at it I can actually FOIA stuff without begging my parents for cash. 
  • The new financial structure is also better for , Google Ads, Amazon kindle publishing, merchandising, and crowdfunding so I need to get on setting that stuff up. But before I ask for crowd funding or donations I want to show people what I'm actually promising them. So that might take a while.
  • Speaking of which there is tons of fiction and poetry on this blog I half-assed. if I polished it up something could happen with it. 
  • And speaking of which since this is financially a business I can actually pay people now. I mean I'm not going to right away. Right now this is still a one man show, but if I wanted to I have a mechanism to actually pay guest bloggers, artists and freelancers. Dawww that's so cute he thinks he's an actual media outlet with a payroll and contractors. 
  • A lot of the text reviews I have on the site already could be repurposed into video reviews.
  • And since money isn't as much of an issue at least for the business if I want to review the weird buying DVD's isn't as much of a stretch. I've been meaning to discuss The World forever but that movie is hard as hell to find and the same can be said of tons of other stuff that can't be streamed.  
  • And having an actual disk would mean I can edit it into an actual discussion. My most clicked stuff tends to be when I decide to actually analyze stuff. Quote stuff, break down visual metaphors and symbolism, discuss cultural relevancy, but it's hard to do when I have to  take a long ass time to describe a scene rather than just show people.  On the other hand do I think sitting editing this stuff would be quicker. Hell no. All the same I kind of want to do some Mr. Plinkett style stuff especially with movies, shows and anime that have been out for a while and have enough influence to warrant that sort of discussion. And even for some obscure stuff I think needs more love.  Mighty Max is so fetch. 

Southfiel Regular City Council Meeting September 21, 2015

Southfield City Council Regular Meeting Held on September 21, 2015
Topics Discussed Included

  • A Tax Abatement For ElringKlinger
  • A Tax Abatement for Versa Development
  • Potential Renewal of Comcast’s Franchise Agreement and Potential Legal Ramifications if The Application is Denied Councilman Sidney Lantz’s Absences From Meeting
  • Landmark Entertainment Group’s Interest in the Northland Mall Property
  • Labor Issues
  • The Building Department’s Dissatisfaction With the Wade-Trim Consulting Firm

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Don't Do The Thing I Did

So I'm kind of in a soft reboot of my blog and it's finally starting to get to the point where it's showing up on the front end. I got a new YouTube channel. I ordered new camera. I subscribed to creative cloud so I should be able to do some cool stuff with that.

It makes me want I'm going to reflect how I got to this point.

Let It Go
So about a year ago I had the worst argument with my father ever. It was pretty much that scene in How to Train Your Dragon except without an impending dragon attack to break up the tension.

There was a lot that pissed me off in that moment but the gist of it is that I felt I wasn't getting credit for any of the stuff I was doing. My dad was going on about how I don't have a job (I do, 3 depending on how I look at it). Anyway that job that I don't have was kind of stressing me out at the time.

Moreover despite being stressed out I was working more hours than usual so I had a couple hundred more dollars in my pocket than I was used to. Sitting down and listening to all that made me think. I have more money, why does my life still suck?

Sidenote: That argument made me realize that part of the reason why was/am so frosty towards my extended family has nothing to do with them and maybe I should cut them some slack as it's unfair for me to avoid them like the plague because I want to avoid the kabuki act I had to play for the sake of my parents, especially the ones too young to pick up on what's going on or haven't been around to add to my ire. And maybe having some outside perspective during that argument rather than furiously fomenting in my own juices might have done me some good.

In other words that right there is why Frozen joins A Boy Named Charlie Brown on the list of movies I watch when I need a pick me up.

Damn it. I can't listen to that song without tearing up a least a little. All the same I'm a natural introvert so I'm not all of a sudden going spend my nights hitting up the strip club. But maybe I shouldn't dismiss family events out of hand like I normally do.

The Pizza-Router Scenario
The answer to that question was what I call the pizza-router dilemma. Although this is somewhat exaggerated it's what was going on at the time. Let's say I have $100 of not allocated to some bill money. That's not enough money to change my life but it is enough to warrant some decisions. And after some thought I realized this was the pattern. I'm not going to save money indefinitely. Within a few months there is going to be something I need or want and unless I massively increase my income to the point where I have money I can squat on that $100 will be gone, The best I can really hope for is try to make sure that when I do spend it I spend it well.

Back to the Scenario. I needed a new router. I knew I needed a new router for over a year. But I didn't buy one because it felt too expensive. All the same over the course of that year I ordered plenty of pizza which isn't exactly something necessary to maintain life. Over the course of that year I was pretty sure I spent more on pizza than it would have cost to buy that new router, something that would have made my life easier if only slightly.

Why was I more comfortable spending the money on pizza which was ephemeral than on something that would have bettered my life?

Because pizza felt cheaper. When I make that $20 purchase on pizza I never thought about how much money I spent on pizza in the last three months I just thought. I'm hungry I have the money and everything else I could spend it on is waaaay more expensive so why not pizza. But over time those small decisions added up. In the grand scheme of things I would rather spend $100 on one new router than on five pizzas but I needed allow myself to feel secure in the idea that that was I was doing. That that $100 is money I had to spend and if I spent it smart now I wouldn't spend it stupid later.

Let's Get To Work
To facilitate this I more or less carried out the plan I outlined in this blog post while I was still fuming about it. I made a spreadsheet of everything I could see myself spending money on and tried to categorize, subcategorize and then prioritize it. Doing that made me realize even if I hate spending money there are some things you just have to buy. Toilet paper, trash bags, tooth paste. And trying to pretend that you won't have to throw down on those only means that when you do you'll be forced to take the most expedient, but not necessarily the cheapest or most efficient option.

Mapping out all the ways I'm likely to spend money allowed me to cut costs and slice off time but I'll get to that in a bit.

I wanted to be able to just look at a website or my phone or whatever and be able to get a number. One number that would amount to how much free unallocated money I had to work with.  And at the time the best way I thought to do that was through the bank, which would keep track of what I spent in relative real time.

So I spent the year opening up a checking account for each of the major categories as well as one to just house money I hadn't figured out what I wanted/needed to do with yet.

Decisions Decisions
Doing that I realized that I had more wiggle room than I thought. I'm not rich but some of the stuff that was off the table all of a sudden became justifiable as things that would save me grief if not money down the line.

And slowly these decisions compiled and compiled. $10 of wiggle became $50 which became $100. Still not enough to move out but enough to make my life demonstrably easier than it was and to make me less angry than I usually am.

As March approached I started to get over my financial lethargy. I could do stuff all of a sudden. I could be proactive. I could shape my world to my will!

In the mail I found a preapproved credit card and all of a sudden all my rhetorical plans weren't rhetorical anymore. So I decided to make a bet with myself on myself. All of these mad cap schemes of mine would pay off in the long run. That all of these projects and improvements will pay for themselves so I've been doing ...stuff.

Cleaning the garage, building a small library, ordering supplies to make my day job a little easier and building a budget for the blog.

All of a sudden I have plans.  Plans with considerable risk. But plans all the same.

Southfield City Council September 21, 2015 Committee of the Whole Meeting

Southfield City Council Committee of the Whole Meeting Held on September 21, 2015

Topics Discussed Included

  • The Potential Renewal of Comcast’s Franchise Agreement and Potential Legal Ramifications if The Application is Denied

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Television Review: Tyrant Season 1

Well the first half of season two of Once Upon a Time kind of drags so I decided to take a break and watch the first season of Tyrant.



I have not visited nor have I have I studied in a university setting the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya,  or Egypt. And the same can be said for post colonialism and the Arab Spring in general other than in broad social studies survey courses and I apologize for anything horrifyingly off base I will say now or have even said while watching this show on Twitter.

Also no joke if I somehow manage to say something that sounds clever remember the previous statement and do not take it overly seriously this is after all (mostly) just a rant about a cable TV show. One of my biggest fears is that somebody takes something I say because I'm bored and kind of annoyed and runs with it.

Okay. Not wholy unlike Once. Tyrant is a show where I like the idea of it. An in-depth albeit fictional examination of Middle Eastern politics during the height of the Arab Spring or if you're over 40 the Iranian Revolution. And on top of that we are in an age where a really good show like that might be able to make it, where Generation Kill, In Treatment, Orange is the New Black, The Wire Treme, House of Cards, had their due.  Where shows can confidently deal with social issues, and revel in dialogue, and go for high concept without fear that the idiocracy will change the dial the moment something comes up the might need to check a news report on.

But the show keeps making weird choices forcing me to concede that it's a miss and that I really want a better version of this idea. And then I realize, revolutionary drama is not a new idea and that I actually have seen a better version of this basic story, albeit outside of a Middle Eastern skin.

Most of the basic story beats of this series can be found in Last King of Scotland along with a lean mean no nonsense script and better acting.  Or if you want to drink te... my usual colloquialism for going high brow won't work when I am specifically describing British Colonialism all the same I feel I also need to recommend Anthills of the Savannah and The Poisonwood Bible.

But the biggest face palm worthy decision I can think of has to do with how the show tackles race and nationality. Let's talk about Americanness

Okay so the show's protagonist "Barry" is supposed to be a Bashar al-Assad analogue.  He spent time in the west and is presented as less heavy handed moderate to his brother. And that would have been great giving the show some historical authenticity and depth if the show hadn't made two decisions.

The first is casting Adam Rayner. Generally I will be the first guy to decry assuming people's ethnicity based on how they look and making judgments about it, but eventually it's hard to get past that you have milk toast over here telling all the brown people how to run the country for most of the season.  It's a constant distraction.

Let's go back to Last King for a second. James McAvoy's character generally has the same advisory role but his entire arc was about him, as a metaphor for the west in general, realizing that he lacked the means to control Amin and that this guy was going to do whatever he wanted regardless of coaxing by the white guy in the room.

And especially with Middle Eastern dictatorships that were propped up by American and British oil interests that might be a good point to make.

One narrative of the Arab Spring in general is about the loss, and flailing maintenance of control both by western interests and Middle Eastern governments, and the attempt to identify and halt disruptive forces before chaos ensues or dealing with the calamity that comes when it is impossible.

The second choice is making his "American" family absolutely insufferable. They are idiots. They are what breaks the show for me however, look I get it. The show wants to make the very necessary point that Americans are out of touch with Middle-Eastern politics and most of the shit we say would be (almost) hilariously stupid if so many people were not suffering (I include myself in that statement). We are long past the point where any sort of easy solution to the Syrian Civil War can be found or managed. There are too many factions, nations and parties that have competing interests and will fight like hell for them.


But back to the show.

The American family tips the scale from sort of obtuse to "Are you actually trying to kill yourself". And none of the drama surrounding them works. I keep finding myself hoping some crafty internet editor will make a cut of this show entirely without them just to see if the show plays better. It would help some of the pacing at the very least.

On the other hand what ruins the show's credibility is what isn't there. The second act on deals with a Square protest analogous to the one that ended the reign of  Hosni Mubarak, yet the show spends very little time in the actual square with the protesters.

One episode in particular that downright pissed me off was when the Royals and the Americans are in a NIGHTCLUB debating what's going on in the square. WHY THE HELL ISN'T THE CAMERA IN THE SQUARE?!?!?!  Why is it so seldom any of the "rebel" characters look directly into the camera and say this (and I mean that in multiple ways) this is why I am so pissed off at the government.

By the same token one of the big reveals of the season has to do with a gas attack committed by the protagonist's father and it is seldom (it does happen) that any of the characters discuss what that moment meant to them and how it changed their lives. To be blunt almost all of them seem more interesting than the schmucks in the palace but they hardly get any screen time, the dissident journalist and his daughter, the man who failed to negotiate elections and his sons. That would be compelling.

One more thing is that religion is noticeably absent. And before I someone calls me a terr'rist. I'm not talking (solely) about jihadists. It's incredibly difficult to describe politics in the region without describing religious motivations or the reactions there of. Even the secular states are secular partially out of a fear of encouraging religious extremists.

Islam says a lot about social justice particularly how the poor should be treated and in a lot of the political movements the show draws from somebody was making overt religious calls to action. And with all the opulence in the palace it seems hard to believe somebody on the ground hasn't given some sort of "Do you think God approves of that palace while children starve in the streets? Does God approve of these men taking any woman, your wives sisters, and mothers as they please?" speech.

Which goes back to the protesters. What do they want. Do they want reform or full ousting of the ruling family. How does religion play into their politics? How do they feel about the west and western culture?  If elections happened who would run amongst them? Do any of them see violence as a viable tool for political change? Are there any internal conflicts?  WHAT DO THEY WANT THEIR COUNTRY TO LOOK LIKE? Most of what we hear about them and their motivations comes second hand, from characters who view them as a problem that needs to be solved post haste. And that is a problem.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

TV Review: Once Upon A Time Season One (Quasi Redux)

For my own sanity I'm going to break this up into seasons. What I like and dislike about the show changes from season to season.

When I first heard about Once Upon a Time I really really liked the premise. I am a fantasy nut, but overtime I had to come to grips that the show specifically this go round the first season but the other seasons have problems too. I believe and will probably always believe there is a good, hell a great show in here...somewhere.

The first season is kind of schitzo. There are a lot of ideas floating around some of them are great and some are good but badly executed, and some are down right lame.

The first season really does try to flesh out the backstory of the fables and really does make them quite interesting but it also makes clear that these interesting characters are the supporting cast. Most of the main characters. Snow White/Mary Margret, The Evil Queen/Regina and especially Emma Swan are just not that interesting.

Almost every moment somebody would get a really cool moment, I would want some time to digest it and the show would go, nope back to your regularly schedule program.

The biggest example I can think of is the Jiminy/Archie  episode which spends a lot of time explaining who he was, who he is and why he does what he does only to cut to bickering between Swan and Regina as Henry another more interesting character is in mortal danger

On that note Henry is one of my favorite characters. He more or less has the entire plot of the show and most of the characters figured out but nobody will listen to him because he's 10. Later on people start to get wise to it and their first response to the problem of the arc is find Henry and read his story book but it's still the first season.

Furthermore there is some fridge logic with Regina being the mayor. Being the evil queen and all she has prickly personality that keeps making me think who the hell elected her. Almost everybody either fears or hates her. And not in the good "Look, I don't want to cross that guy until I have to" way but more in that "Up yours pal" way. I can get that everybody else just sort of fell into their modern roles but for Regina I just can't see it. On the other hand she did cast the curse so of course she would put herself in charge.

Now that I think of it I kind of have a problem with most, though not all the villians. The better written ones dominate later seasons but Regina is kind of weak sauce especially in season one. The show in general focuses a little too much on wuv, and I'm not buying especially as written in season one Regina's I just want love motivations for all the crap she does.

Especially her murder of... look it's Snow White do I really need to spoiler tag that The Huntsman bites it.  The way that scene plays out she kills him not because he's the only guy who's reached the age of majority who's figured out the plot and can move the board against her but because he broke up with her and she can't deal. That's kind of weak.

That said the biggest problem with the first season is it plays fast and loose with the reveal that the flashbacks actually happened. Sometimes the show pretends like those are just stories, and sometimes it pretends Henry is the only sane man who knows what's going on.

This mean that the season spends a lot of time jogging in place until the last four or five episodes where everything is explained and we finally get a what's going on and why. Specifically who did what, how, and what their motivations were.

Because of that huge chunks of the first season feel like a prequel and I'm not talking about the flashbacks which are actually pretty good self contained stories in the vain of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre or that Jim Henson show. (By the way I keep using the clip from The Story Teller for a reason it is really really good. It used to be on Hulu but alas. Then again there might be a reason for that.)  I mean that the over arching plot always feel like it's setting the pick for bigger more interesting stuff. This is especially so since the first season ends on a huge cliff hanger that feels like "okay the show can actually start now".

------Spoilers Now-----

While The Evil Queen brought all the fairy tale characters to the real world as revenge for all the stuff that happened in Snow White she was actually being manipulated by Rumpelstiltskin.

Before he was the evil bastard we know and hate he was an absolute wuss who sought power to protect his son but all that power changed him into the bargain makin', baby eatin', nightmare we know today. His son realizing that part of the transformation was caused by a magical deal with the devil made another deal with him to travel to a land without magic where he wouldn't be able to BE Rumpelstiltskin but Rumpie just couldn't let go of all that power and welshed, despite all the "stuff" he's done since that moment has become his biggest regret, "the one deal" he couldn't keep. Everything that happened in the first season was part of his master plan to reunite with his son and beg for his forgiveness, but being Rumplestilskin he doesn't have it in him to truly commit being without all that power. So he wants to, get to our world, locate his son, and here is the cliff hanger find a way to bring his mojo with him. What happens when you have a evil, goal oriented megalomaniacal,  fireball throwing wizard who at the same time ALSO happens to be a devious and ruthless contract lawyer in the REAL world?

That is a really good premise, but "the creators of lost" spent way to too much time keeping the audience in the dark and I can't help but feel the story doesn't really get started until season two and good until season three.


I'll deal with the second season later but what makes Rumple an interesting character is his fatal flaw. He is an absolute coward who is always searching for a bigger gun even when being the guy with the big red button scares the ever living shit out of his family (as embodied by his son) and would be allies partially because they know the score. If it's a choice between them and power he'll choose power every time.  And the question he has to ask himself is does he have it in him to change, to be comfortable being a weak man even though being that weak man is what drove him to be the monster of the tales.

But that question can't really get answered until the show explains all the background which doesn't happen until the tail end of the season.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


For reasons I find myself wanting to talk about the worse time in my life (this won't happen often so take up a chair). My second (or third depending on how I count) semester at The University of Michigan. The one where I failed out of engineering school. In recent years I've been thinking about whether or not when I recall the story of my life I still want to call it the worse time in my life. There have been worse things that happened. Friends and family have died.

All the same I don't know. Once something horrible happens you can sort of start to pick up the pieces and move on but this was a slow inevitable train wreck where I felt the ill advised need to fight fate. There was the moment between where you think if you work really hard you might make it and you realize there is just no way in hell to make the math work and you're just stuck in the nightmare until it ends.

For a really long time I thought the worse thing that could happen to me was to  fail in school. I suppose it was just how I was raised.  At the same time I didn't have the perspective to realize that I was an okay but not great student.  I had and arguably still have the ability to make people think I'm smarter than I really am and this was the time in my life where I got a little too drunk on that kool-aid. In the end I actually think failing out of college might have been good for me as it taught me a hard lesson of what can happen when I do that.

To be fair by my second semester (and arguably the end of the first) that had worn off but I'll freely admit the first was mostly just me hanging out in my dorm goofing off until something came up that meant I couldn't. But during the second I spent many a hard night looking at a Linix screen at the Dude and coming up short. Stupid mother fucking game of life. And while I'm at it stupid orbitals.

In the end it became hard for me to justify to myself the time and effort I was spending, hard to justify to my parents the amount of money they were spending but more importantly harder to justify to the counselors.

I was learning something. Hey I went from 10 percents to 50 percents. But I wasn't learning fast enough to justify not giving my spot to one of the tens of thousand of other guys who might get it faster.

Eventually I went to community college and then Michigan State to get a degree in journalism but I can't help but feel that my time at University of Michigan was good for me.

First off it was the first time in my life that I wasn't hanging around the same group of people I had since grade school. It made me realize how much of my perceptions of myself were reflections of what they thought of me.

Speaking of which it was the first time in my life where I started to seriously question my parents. And I don't mean in the rebellious teen kind of way. Failing out of engineering college made me ask the question of how did I get to that point. I couldn't remember waking up one day and thinking I want to be an engineer. I think that might have been part of the problem. I didn't really want it I was just there because it never occurred to me to do something else, largely due to my parents' pushing.

Ruminating on that realization is what normally gives me the guts to tell them "Shut up. It's my life"

Even when I should probably just shut up my own self and just nod my head.

And lastly look. As long as I don't feel as bad as I did in those moments of my life I figure I'll get over whatever is ailing me. That no matter how bad I feel it's only a moment in time and sooner or later another moment will come that's not to say that moment will be better than the last but the thing that I am spending so much of my brain on will not seem as important as at least one of the next things. A problem is never as big as it seems in that moment.

That said don't make the mistake of thinking it doesn't still piss me right the hell off. It was still the worse moment of my life after all.

But enough of the self-indulgent navel gazing.

Here are some pro-tips. What time and reflection has taught me about school.

  • Everybody tells you you're going to spend more time working outside of the class than in lecture but what they don't tell you is that time may be less than flexible unlike regular study time. Labs, group projects, office hours. I doublebooked once and while it affected my grade what hurt worse was that made me the odd man out in my group.
  • For the love of god realize when your professor expects you to collaborate. In high school it's cheating in college it's survival. 
  • It's the rare professor who is going to tell you to skip class (most of my better ones were honest about it and did) but if you feel your time could be better spent working on something else weigh it and make the choice. Do you need to study for another exam? Having trouble scheduling that group project?  Is that paper due?
  • Speaking of which know your class's attendance policy inside and out. 
  • The same goes with any other policies. You would be surprised at how many classes have an objective policy regarding grammar, or late papers, or any number of other things. 
  • Know when to fold them and just withdraw from a course. A W generally doesn't hurt your GPA. That said some colleges have policies on how many course you can withdraw from. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

President Obama's September 9, 2015 Education Speech

On September 9, 2015 President Obama gave a speech at Macomb Community College in Warren Michigan regarding higher education.

Second Lady Jill Biden's September 9, 2015 Speech and Introduction of President Obama

Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden's September 9, 2015 Speech and Introduction of President Obama at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan.

Southfield City Engineer Leigh Schultz Updates Southfield City Council on Infrastructure Upgrades (September 8, 2015)

On September 8, 2015 Southfield City Engineer Leigh Schultz updated Southfield City Council regarding infrastructure upgrades taking place in the city.

Southfield September 8, 2015 City Council Meeting

Southfield City Council Meeting held September 8, 2015
Topics Include

  • An update regarding the city's infrastructure efforts
  • The need to curtail the invoking of the council's rules regarding the immediate need to act and transparency
  • The merging of one of city's engineering contractors, Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc. with another firm, Alfred Benesch & Company
  • A Tax Abatement Request for ErlingKlinger Automotive Manufacturing

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Let's Take A Walk Through The Enchanted Forest: Part 1

So. I watched Decedents and immediately regretted it.

Okay that cemented my disgustEntertainment is part of the hospitality package after all. There are standards to be kept. And don't get me started on their villain songs. Yikes. If you're going to put on the black do it right damn it. What's the point of being a proper villain if you can't ham it up a bit. Maybe have a suit of armor made of spikes, some sort of imposing fortress and a dungeon for people who annoy you.

Anyway I really do like the IDEA of fairy tales walking around in modern times. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres.

Fantasy tends to work on rules and most of the characters from Bilbo on up kind of have an innate awareness of those rules. Good guys always win, true love always prevail and never trust anything that talks if you can't see where it keeps its brain.

But what happens with those rules being futzed with by the setting. Fairy tale urban fantasy a specific subgenre that I have yet to see get it right on the screen. There are some good shows but I have yet to find the fairy tales in a modern setting idea done in a way that doesn't have serious flaws at least on TV.

And it bugs me because it's something I really really want to see.

But I want to talk about some of the attempts.  Before I start in earnest however, allow me a brief digression on a few literary fairytales.

On Literary Fairy Tales

For my purposes a fairy tale is any story that draws more so on oral tradition than literary tradition. Oral stories have to be relatively short and broad to be remembered by the orator and as such many of these stories are more episodic than written literature. That's why Odysseus, Athena, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Paul Bunyon, and Mab tend to bounce around from and adventure to adventure. And that carries on into stories that are trying to evoke that oral tradition like Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit or even Harry Potter.

Think about it in most of the Potter books, particularly the early ones the plot doesn't usually kick in until the last 50 or so pages and the rest is just hijinks at Hogwarts.

Literary fairy tales on the other hand try to expand upon the relatively simple nature of oral stories normally by adding detail to plot, characters and setting that wouldn't work if the tale was being told by a single person on a single night along by the fire.

And that tangent was basically a way to allow me to discuss my favorite example, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier a retelling of The Six Swans. One of my major beefs with the stories I'm going to talk about is that the characters ascribe their actions as predestined roles to be played in a story, (What do you expect. I'm Rumpelstiltskin the dude who tricks women into trading their first born so I can eat them in my stew. Screwing people on the deal is what I do sir. It's what I do. ) but Daughter of The Forest is brilliant at giving character reasons for everyone's actions. More over a lot of those motivations were influenced by her version of the story's Celtic setting. Hell that's one of the story's subtexts. One of the characters thinks he might be doing what he's doing because of magical brainwashing only for it to be revealed, nope it was all you buddy and if you had it to do over you would make all the same moves 'cause of wuv. The only exception is maybe the villain and she get's her due in the sequels, which are admittedly weaker than the first book (Note: I only read the original Seven Water's trilogy so any books after that are Greek to me).


Instead of starting with the obvious let's start with The 10th Kingdom.

The 10th Kingdom

Okay. The 10th kingdom was a 2000 Hallmark miniseries. In general there are some real gems there so check some of those out.

But alas. This is about The 10th Kingdom. It suffers from two main problems, the first being produced on a made for television budget just before the LOTR fantasy boom.

To a modern audience that's used to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter style battles the framing can't help but feel smaller than the story warrants. Plot wise it's mostly because the main cast is on the run and trying to keep a low profile but all the same there aren't that many big set piece moments. Instead of the wide shots making things feel expansive it makes you realize just how empty this place is.

 And the second is it's tone is all over the place.

All the same before Once Upon A Time I would say it was probably the best of these. Hell a lot of stuff was borrowed from it. Oh and it has John Larroquette and Warwik Davis.

The plot is that the well evil queen from Snow White or at least her successor escapes prison and transforms Snow White and Prince Charming's grandson who is about to be crowned king into a dog who hightails it to New York and enlists the aid of a woman who you could easily call Emma Swan 1.0.

The first third of the story is more or less her standing by and snarking at all the insanity of being hijacked into a fairy tale and more poignantly a place where all the talk of true love, honor and all that jazz actually means something rather than you know New York.

Back to that tone problem though the big bad who I'll get to in a moment is actually a serious threat but her underlings are idiots. (Except from THE Huntsman played by Rutger Hauer)

It doesn't help that Dianne Wiest her actress is probably the only one consistently playing her character straight, again except a stoic Hauer as The Huntsman. Oh I can't help it.

Anyway whenever the Queen actually starts doing plot stuff things get pretty serious even downright bleak but the rest of the show is a joke as Virginia (our Swan) snarks at the stupidity of fairy tale rules until they actually start helping her as one of the good guys.

And I forgot about the Wolf who is so problematic I'll save him for later. To be fair in a lot of ways Hook from Once Upon a Time is basically him done better but here he comes off kind of creepy and in some scenes downright rapey. How that guy didn't get locked up 5 minutes after touch down is beyond me... and he tried to do the grandma thing.  Seriously he's an  embarrassment to wolves everywhere.

Anyway since The 10th Kingdom doesn't take most its the characters seriously most of them are paper thin being used for cheap gags at the expense of being destined to play their roles, with The Wolf hamming it up like there's no tomorrow (and more than a few double entendres), but since that's what the show is going for I'm okay with that. However some of the humor can be cringy and I can never help but feel if it had given it's script a few more passes it could have been something more.

The best adaptations of fairy tales make the inherent fairy-taleness a result of the setting rather than the characters who are just playing by the rules of the universe. Or to put it more bluntly a lot of the "hijinks" are cause by the characters being kind of idiots and the actual plot doesn't really kick in until a late game reveal which is more or less the inverse of Swan's.

That said that late game reveal is very well foreshadowed and quite interesting I just wish it had come maybe two or three episodes earlier and actually added some much needed drama to the work.  The first few episodes are kind of hard to watch as nothing important really happens in the them once the set up is established.

Even though it's part of its character development the Prince's primary motivation is that he wants to be crowned King not all the stuff and evil witch and a troll will do in power, while everybody else just wants to go home. And that becomes kind of insufferable. The majority of story spends so much time pretending that there are no stakes that you wind up believing it after a while.

In short watch the first 45 minutes and maybe the last 2 and a half hours out of this 7 hour show the rest if filler.

The Wolf Among Us

You know what I'll say it The Wolf Among Us is by far the best version of this idea I have seen played out. All of the fables stories are just that stories that inform both themselves and the audience of who they are, what they want, and how they operate.

It also does a good job of making sure each of the Fables feels like themselves.

I don't want to spoil too much because it's so good but the set up is thus. Something happened that made all the Fables, your characters from folklore and fairy tales flee their worlds. They're on the lamb in New York and Because of his rep, The Big Bad Wolf, Bigby has been made the Sheriff of their little community, the guy who keeps the peace. In this installment is tasked with solving a murder case.

That said this one is kind of short but I'll give it some string since it's based of a long running comic series I haven't read. If I want more, and I do want more I know where to find it.

But anyway onward to the more obvious and yes more topical entry. Once Upon A Time...Next Time

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Make It In America August 31, 2015 Detroit Congressional Field Hearing

On August 31, 2015 U.S. Representative for Michigan's 14th District Brenda Lawrence and U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th District Steny Hoyer held a Congressional field hearing regarding jobs and the education of the modern workforce at the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit.
Topics Discussed Include
  • The Need for Better Career Counseling in Schools
  • The Need For Cultural Attitude Changes in Regards to Vocational Training 
  • The Need For Increased Vocational Training In Schools
  • The Changing Nature of the Economy
Panelists at the Hearing Included
  • William F. Jones, CEO of Focus: Hope
  • Jose Reyes, Chief Operating Officer of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation
  • Jeannine LaPrad, President and CEO for the Corporation for a Skilled Work Force
  • Mary Kaye Aukee, Career Focused Education Director for Oakland Schools
  • Kenneth Harris, President and CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Rick Blocker, President of the Metro AFL-CIO & Chair of the 14th Congressional District of the Democratic Party
Also in Attendance at the Event Were
  • United States Representative of Michigan's 13th District John Conyers
  • Detroit Councilwoman Brenda Jones
  • Southfield City Council President Sylvia Jordan
Also a Previous Hearing in the series can be found here

Here Is What I Wished They Talked About At The Detroit Make It In America Hearing

So last night I went to a congressional field hearing regarding economics. Don't worry I'm uploading it to Youtube. I don't know if I left early but I couldn't help but feel disappointed. I didn't feel like many of the issues I care about were addressed. In my head I kept thinking "Where is the Beef", so here are a list of the bullet points that were running through my head.

  • The increasing presence of freelance, part time, and contract workers in the economy and how they effect affect both union and governmental policy. 
  • How does the government and unions for that matter protect or plan to the LGBT community from workplace discrimination.
  • How has the economic recession effected affected the education of the workforce as many education funds are based on property taxes? (Especially With Michigan's Prop A)
  • In the current climate in Washington how would jobs, or education legislation get funded
  • In president Obama's State of the Union he mentioned using community colleges as grades 13 and 14/America's College Promise where is that plan now?
  • How does transportation funding both state and federal effect the economy?
  • How does the private industry train employees. Is the unpaid internship the new starting position?
  • Address the talk in the Michigan Legislature of slashing the Budget of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • What is the democratic position on the Trans Atlantic Trans-Pacific trade bill. The protectionist rhetoric there doesn't quite gel with the idea of training the modern worker to compete in the market?
  • Could hard data be provided regarding the availability of vocational jobs?  I just don't think the idea of training people in those jobs even modernized versions of them makes as much sense as it used to in the modern economy? (Note: I'll admit I'm wrong.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Southfield City Council Meeting August 24, 2015

Southfield City Council Meeting Held on August 24, 2015

Topics Discussed Include

  • Racist Political Flyers
  • A Tribute to the Late Fire Chief Rowley
  • Automation Alley/Smart Zone
  • DTE Power Outages

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our Competition Isn't Downtown Detroit. It's Brooklyn

Okay while I occasionally try to pretend otherwise I am not an economics expert all the same one of the reoccurring themes in my brain droppings is that the petty poaching and conversly the complaining about petty poaching in the Metro-Detroit business scene does nobody good.

The reason why it's happening is because up until recently the pool of large companies in the area up for grabs was limited and I'm not going to lie and say that's no longer the case but but focusing on how to steal companies for each downtown is treating the symptom not the disease.

Instead effort could better be expended on trying eliminate the barriers to economic activity. Revising zoning and usage laws, training the existing workforce and recruiting outside the state to reverse the brain drain, pumping money into research so that the next great breakthroughs occur here instead of the coasts or even overseas, investing in infrastructure to better allow trade, and creating safe spaces that can provide access to tools and technology for innovation.

Instead of all that stuff I hear my political leaders discussing more and more how we can play pass the potato with the few businesses that are here and I feel that attitude is contributing to an overall stagnation.

Worse I feel and have always felt that that sort of anti-regionalism is why the state is so slow to deal with problems like transportation and education as municipalities who share common interests are more inclined to protect their little bit of turf rather than work together and actually get something done.

I don't know what to do about it but it's what I think.

Friday, August 21, 2015

DTE Energy Presentation August 17, 2015

On August 17, 2015 DTE Energy made a presentation to the Southfield City Council regarding Tree Trimming Activities

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Southfield August 17, 2015 City Council Meeting

Southfield City Council Meeting Held August 17, 2015
Topics Discussed Include

  • Potential Soup Kitchen and Homeless Shelter Regulations
  • DTE Energy Tree Trimming
  • Southfield-Troy Smart Zone
  • A New Investment Firm (The Bogdahn Group) Being Given Responsibility For the SERS (Employee Retirement) Fund
  • Zoning Ordinance Amendments For Vehicular Storage

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why Do We Never Move?

I have finally decided to give my writing a good go yet I find myself uncertain as to what to write. I wish not to be jubilant nor flippant for there have been events that temper those emotions in me so instead I will forgo my normal dishonesty and be earnest. I will be earnest in what I desire and my arguments for it.

I want prosperity. I want personal and more over familial prosperity. I want myself and my kin to be able to do as we please unhampered by a lack of funds. That desire is the guiding star of my politics. I shall not call myself a Democrat but I do honestly believe that a great public good can be achieved when we all give a little of ourselves to obtain it.

Due to my reticence to humor I feel the most poignant point I can make at this moment is that, we have failed to finance our roads; we are failing to finance our schools. We should be ashamed, not only of the wound we commit to ourselves but to the wrong we do to our progeny.

The world may seem to move quickly but government moves slowly. The world our children inherit will be the one which our hands build. But out of greed those hands are tied and bound as the world, no not the world, my home slides backwards. Instead of rising into the dawn we plunge ourselves further into the night. I do not like my home being the butt of national jokes. I do not like cringing as people I have great respect for laugh at our wretched condition, which to be honest we have cast upon ourselves through our inability to dream,  to look into the black night and see the light of the stars, to chase those suns no matter how distant. The dawn may be far away but it will arrive through diligent work. We must rise from the muck, take up the gavel, take up the level, take up the ledger and yes take up the tomes of those who have puzzled their hopes before as we do now and for Christ's sake get to work!

The reason why our government does not is not foolishness but because they have taken the temperature of the people.  We want everything but will pay for nothing. This is not how a dream, not how a life is built. Yet that is what we have told to them. "Do what you can to fix our problems as long as we do not have put in for them." And we wonder why nothing gets built, why nothing gets fixed.

Before we shake the fist at them we should look to ourselves and ask do we really want things to get better. Do we want better schools, do we want better roads, do we want better laws or shall we remain and mire in the doomed status quo until the cost of our stagnation becomes to obvious and contemptible to bear.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Passing of Fire Chief Keith Rowley

After a days long search Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley's body was found on Monday August 3 in Lake St. Clair not far from where he went missing. Funeral details can be found here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Really That Bad: Little Nicky

You know I like both Jim Sterling and Moviebob and thought why not combine two of their best series. Really That Bad, where in I defend Hollywood's so called stinkers. I can't say this will be a series but a lot of these have been rolling around in my head lately so let's go.

And because its topical and I want some sweet sweet clicks lets hit it.

Okay first off let me admit straight up that I haven't seen most of the (recent) bad Adam Sandler movies. For a really long time The Waterboy was one of my favorite movies.  What can I say. I was a bullied nerd in middle school with a lot of revenge fantasies and Bobby Boucher helped scratch that itch in film.

Did I mention it brought back The Fonz. AYEEEE (Snap).

And going back his films before that are solid comedy gold not to mention his time on SNL. It kind of irks me that people especially think nothing good has come out of this guy.

Heck even in recent years Funny People was one of the most somber yet funny movies I had seen in a long time and above all else it felt honest.  

Oh my god I'm Seth Rogen. When did that happen?

Anyway a lot of people chart THE SUCKING to Little Nicky. And while I softened on the movie at the time I loved it.

Almost everything everybody hated in Little Nicky they loved about The Waterboy and while you may have some too cool for school cats who dislike The Waterboy now realize the truth of their similarities, I was there in the late 90's and on the ground most of my peers juvenile  as we may have been really did get a kick out of it when it was rerun to death on TBS and TNT in the days before Netflix.

Adam Sandler affectation wasn't too far off from the Forest Gump stuff Tom Hanks had done before but this time added to a zany sports comedy that could go full throttle.  Not only that but the movie had one hell of a comedic cast to add to it all. Kathy Bates generally throws herself into whatever role she's got going and isn't afraid to mug with the best of them. And to this day the woman has pitch perfect comedic timing.

Nobody plays nuts like Fairuza Balk.

Henry Winkler  and Jerry Reed, come on. If the internet had existed in the 70's somebody would have written that fanfic.

Not to mention the script and story structure were tight as well. Why wouldn't it be it's basically satirizing the old structure of the sports movie by making most of it's major players no pun intended kind of nuts. Seriously The Waterboy is Rudy if Rudy wasn't so sanctimonious, if well, if it didn't have its head up its ass.

The Waterboy was a well oiled comedy machine. In short for me at least The Waterboy is one of those once in a million all the elements came together to make one hell of a movie...movies.

And why did I spend all that time talking about The Waterboy. Well I said it before. Almost everything people hate about Little Nicky was there in The Waterboy it's just that Little Nicky is a much less well executed movie.

Instead of putting its stunt cast celebrities in places where they can use there various personas to advance the plot here they are pointless filler and "how did they get that guy" cameo gags.

The wink and a nod how much will the studio let us get away with humor of previous happy Madison movies was cranked up as Sandler got more power. Rather than making the movies feel raw (Eddie Murphy style... Pluto Nash is on my list) it made them feel juvenile.

Or to put it another way there is a thin line between laid back guys at a bar humor and that annoying kid who's trying to sound like those guys humor and Little Nicky is the film that crossed it.

All the same whereelse am I going to find an actually pretty likable Satan shoving a pineapple up Hitler's bunghole.  That is to say while the movie is flawed when it works it does work in particular Harvey Keitelis a really compelling devil and his laid back hey it's a living and somebody has to deal with these asshats hell is kind of funny, and Rhys Ifans can do the traditional ham in a way that manages to be both menacing and funny ... as long none of the actors have to spout plot stuff.

And that's really where most of the movie falls apart. Whereas The Waterboy managed to somehow be able to pull the earnest thing off largely because it was borrowing so much from the Rudy playbook, Little Nicky... can't. Whenever the characters have to talk about the story's stakes the actors seem bored and lifeless, but when slinging the jokes, especially the New York centric ones things pick up.

Or to put it another way this movie actually does the offspring of the devil tooling around on earth kind of decently and a lot of movies and tv shows since have actually managed to make that sort of thing work and take it further.

Seriously The Devil is a Part Timer is basically Little Nicky  or at least it's plot but good.

That having been said in order for any other characters actions to make any sort of sense they have to not realize the guy who snores like a bear, head turns 360 degrees, has glowing red eyes, and greets people by licking them is an average joe.


It's an idiot plot. But let's be honest a lot of comedies are.

Okay I'm not doing a good job of defending it so I'll repeat myself. When the movie is just the son of Satan hanging around a bunch of stoners, dealing with his roommate and tooling around NYC it's kind of endearing if not laugh out loud funny but that couldn't be the whole movie there had to be this thing called plot.

Which gets especially nuts in the third act where said plot has to kick in to high gear. Like I said when the movie has actually stakes is when it stops being as endearing so yeah the last half hour or so is pretty groan worthy but even so brushes up against so insane you kind of have to respect it. The big good that saves the balance between good and evil is...

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